Thursday, October 30, 2008

Title VI 50th Anniversary Conference

Title VI of the Higher Education Act is congressional authority intended to encourage and promote international programs, foreign language acquisition, and cultural exchange at institutions of higher learning in the United States. If you have an international program at your institution, chances are some or all of its public funding comes from this piece of legislation. The ACMS is a recipient of Title VI funds through the US Department of Education. Every four years the ACMS competes with other centers around the world for a grant to cover core administrative funds through the American Overseas Research Centers (AORC) program. The ACMS was selected for funding in 2002 which allowed for the Center in Ulaanbaatar to be opened in 2004, and it was selected again in 2006 which has allowed the center to begin expanding its programs.

Title VI covers the Fulbright-Hays program which is most familiar to people for its Fulbright Fellowship. However, Fulbright-Hays covers numerous international programs which include overseas seminars, lectureships, and foreign language learning. The ACMS will host its first Fulbright-Hays seminar abroad in the summer of 2009. This seminar will bring sixteen k-12 educators to Mongolia for three weeks to learn about life in the country.

As a recipient of Title VI funding, the ACMS will also participate in the 50th anniversary conference celebrating Title VI programs. The conference is scheduled for March 19-21, 2009 in Washington, DC. Title VI is an extremely important part of the US educational system, and it is good to know that effort is being made to mark the 50th year of its existence. For more information about the conference visit

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CIEE Seminar 2009

As noted in a previous post on this blog, the ACMS will host another faculty abroad seminar organized and administered by CIEE during the summer of 2009. The ACMS hosted a group of 12 US faculty members in June 2008, and the seminar offered numerous opportunities to learn about historical and contemporary aspects of Mongolian society firsthand. Below are a couple of photos from the 2008 seminar. For more information about the 2009 seminar and how to apply, please visit

Thursday, October 23, 2008

ACMS Research Fellowship Program

The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS), with funding support from the Henry Luce Foundation, is pleased to announce the second year of the American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) Research Fellowship Program. The ACMS Research Fellowship Program annually supports three fellows to conduct up to 12-months of doctoral dissertation or post-doctoral research in Mongolia on topics in the Social Sciences or Humanities. Previous Mongolian Studies experience is not required, but projects should enhance knowledge of Mongolia and the Mongols within relevant academic disciplines or fields of study. Projects that link research conducted in Mongolia to research in other parts of Asia or across academic fields are especially encouraged.

Fellowship awards will include travel expenses to and from Mongolia, an accommodation and food allowance, and a stipend to cover research expenses. Fellows will also have the opportunity to take intensive Mongolian language courses, select resources for inclusion in the ACMS Library, and participate in an annual academic seminar in Mongolia that will bring together international, regional and local scholars and students.

Research work under this program must begin between September 2009 and March 2010, and last for a continuous 6-12 months. Fellowship recipients will be based in Mongolia for the duration of their fellowship, but research travel in the broader region is encouraged. Dissertation fellows must have an approved dissertation proposal prior to the start of their research work under the fellowship, and Post-Doctoral fellows must begin their fellowship work within seven years of the granting of their doctoral degree. Fellowship recipients must be US or Canadian citizens attending or recently graduated from a university in the US or Canada.

For more information on the program, including an Application Package and the General Terms and Conditions of the awards, visit the ACMS website at:

Deadline for receipt of complete application packages is February 15, 2009.
Awards will be announced in April 2009.

Questions about the program should be directed to, to phone (360) 356-1020, or to the ACMS office in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Funding support for the ACMS Research Fellowship Program is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation. For more information on the Henry Luce Foundation, please visit:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Xiongnu Archaeology Conference

October 17th and 18th the leading international scholars in Xiongnu archaeology and other related fields of research came together for a rare opportunity to exchange research findings and discuss ideas about the future development of Xiongnu archaeology in Mongolia and related sites in China, Russia, and the Korean peninsula. Over thirty Scholars from China, France, Germany, Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States gave 20 minute presentations on a variety of topics from exotic materials in Xiongnu burial sites to isotope analysis of animal teeth to measure livestock mobility.

Discussants summarized each presentation session, offering new perspectives on where research findings confirmed and contradicted each other. Each session brought interesting revelations, underscoring the past communication difficulties caused by language barriers among numerous scholars from different countries working on related research questions. The conference was intended to create a baseline of knowledge across all international scholars working in the field, and it seemed to achieve this objective numerous times over the two days.

The conference packet is available on the ACMS website at The conference organizers plan to publish a volume of the conference proceedings in the summer of 2009. Below are a few pictures from the conference.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Search for Chinggis' Tomb Continues

A colleague at University of Redlands brought an article at Science Daily to my attention over the weekend about a new attempt to locate Chinggis Khan's tomb using the latest in "non-invasive techniques" which include ground penetrating radar. The most interesting aspect of the article for me is a line which reads, "Lin says he's hoping to collaborate with the Mongolian government and national universities, through the help of Amaraa and Bayarsihan Baljinnayam — siblings from what he endearingly calls his 'Mongolian family.'" I may be misinterpreting this line, but it suggests to me that the researchers may be mistakenly assuming that involving a couple of Mongolians in the research team who will rationally and logically explain the project to people in Mongolia is the same thing as involving the nation of Mongolia in the project.

There is a significant number of people in Mongolia who do not want the tomb to be found, and each expedition has been wrought with political rows over whether anyone should be given permission to make the search. For some the tomb is a sacred place that Chinggis' followers went to great lengths to hide. They believe no one has a right to find it, least of all non-Mongolians. To others, the whole search smacks of tomb raiding premised on the flimsiest of scientific pretenses. Would finding the tomb provide enough scientific and historical illumination to justify the cost of desecrating a sacred place and alienating a large swath of the Mongol population? This is a question very much open to debate, especially and ironically without knowing what is contained in the tomb.

The methods employed by the researchers as described in the article should raise some new controversies. After all, they do not need to come Mongolia to conduct their search, which means that the Mongolian government and Mongolian people are somewhat limited in what they can do to influence the search. In a situation like this I can see where the politics involved could potentially become even more intense than seen in the past as the methods might seem to some as completely side stepping the sovereign rights of Mongolians to decide who searches for what buried in Mongolian soil. I hope for Dr. Lin's benefit that his "Mongolian family" is astute at the fine art of politics, because I could foresee this project angering many more people than it pleases, especially if they reach their goal of identifying a possible location for Chinggis' tomb without ever stepping foot on Mongolian soil.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

NUM's First Endowed Chair

On Friday morning the Asia Foundation held a ceremony to sign the first agreement to create an endowed chair position for a faculty member at the National University of Mongolia. The official name of the chair position is the "Taylor Family-Asia Foundation Endowed Chair in Ecology and Conservation Biology," and the Asia Foundation awarded University of Pennsylvania alumnus Dr. Boldgiv as the first holder of the position. The endowment is valued at approximately $100,000, and Dr. Boldgiv will receive research support throughout the year through interest income generated from the endowment.

This endowed chair is an important development in higher education and research in Mongolia, and I am excited by the Asia Foundation's achievement and the Taylor family's generosity. It sets a precedent that I hope other organizations and donors (the ACMS included) can build upon and expand. Dr. Boldgiv represents a new generation of young scholars who have received PhDs from prestigious universities and have returned to assist in the further development of higher education and scholarship in Mongolia. Privately endowed chairs and fellowships have historically provided outstanding US scholars invaluable opportunities to expand the frontier of knowledge, because private funding opportunities have freed scholars from the vagaries of institutional politics and intrigue that can often inhibit important academic inquiry. Dr. Boldgiv, no less than US scholars, has now been given the same academic freedom with this endowed chair. I hope to see more Mongolian scholars earn this same freedom in the future.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ACMS Hosts Rice University Interns

Over the summer the ACMS hosted two interns from Rice University. Their experiences are described in a recent press release from the Rice University News and Media Relations Office. ACMS Executive Director Charles Krusekopf is a Rice University Alumnus, and Rice University is an Institutional Member of the ACMS. Mongolia is an amazing place to participate in an internship, and the ACMS works hard to facilitate opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

For more information about the Rice students' experiences visit, and for more information about the ACMS Internship Program visit the Internship Program section on the ACMS website.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Visa-less Transfers Were Never Gone

A correction from an earlier post on this blog: Visas are not required to make transfers in China within 24 hours of arriving, which is contrary to the information I posted a few weeks ago. I was misinformed then, and a very nice, smiling immigration officer at Beijing international airport informed me of this last week when I tried to use my Chinese visa to transfer from terminal 3 to terminal 2 where MIAT flights depart. Thanks a lot Chinese Embassy for the bad information...and taking $130 for the effort.

It turns out, however, that the new transfer system--that is, transferring from the new international terminal (terminal 3) to the old international terminal (terminal 2)--is not much different than before when one was transferring from a MIAT flight to a flight to the US. One still goes through the diplomat passports line and receives a temporary 24 hour visa stamp, and then exits immigration. Transfer to terminal 2 via bus, and then reenter customs and immigration to check-in at the MIAT counter. If all this takes less than 24 hours to do, then one does not need a visa to transfer in China.

As always, though, don't take my word for it. Check with your nearest consulate for up-to-date rules and regulations regarding transfers through China.

ACMS Library – Collection Increases by 400

The ACMS library recently received a donation of approximately 400 books, journals, and pamphlets from the family of Dr. Larry Moses who passed away during the summer. The materials were part of Dr. Moses’ personal research collection used during his career at Indiana University. These materials are currently being shipped to Mongolia, and they should be available for research in the late spring of 2009. The ACMS Board of Directors and Executive Staff would like to express their condolences for Dr. Moses’ passing and sincerest thanks for this generous contribution to the ACMS collection to the Moses family.

Xiongnu Archaeology Conference, Ulaanbaatar, Oct. 15-18

This international conference endeavors to bring together all scholars, from Asia to America, actively researching in the field of Xiongnu archaeology in order to discuss old and new research questions in a focused group of both specialists and related scholars. As this event will be structured around the exchange of ideas and constructive discussion, the format will be different from most conferences. Brief lectures of 20 minutes will be organized into thematic sessions, and each session will close with discussant commentary and open discussion. We thus aim to foster new ideas and approaches for the research which has been presented by specialists in this field.

The conference will be held at the Open Society Forum conference room from 8am to 6pm each day, with tea and lunch breaks. The Open Society Forum is located adjacent to the Silk Road and Veranda restaurant building across from the Chojin Lama Monastery. For more information please contact the American Center for Mongolian Studies at (+976) 11-350-486 or

Conference Organizers:
Dr. Ursula Brosseder (Bonn University, Germany)
Bryan K. Miller, PhD Candidate (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

This event is sponsored by the Silkroad Foundation in cooperation with University of Bonn, University of Pennsylvania, Institute of Archaeology, Mongolia, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, National Museum of Mongolia, and American Center for Mongolian Studies.

Registration at Conference Website: